Since I was little I loved to dance and carnival was a great time to do it. Its very fun to see many people having fun at clubs and on the streets. I grew up in Sao Paulo State watching and participating in many different ways to celebrate Carnival. Brazil is a big country (population:250+MM) with many diferent cultural influences. These differences lead to every region of the county shaping their own way to commemorate Carnival.

Carnival  was introduced to Brazil in the early 1700s. The festival is essentially a chance for Catholics, or anyone looking to engage in a bit of revelry, to get in a few last bits of sin before Lent. In 1641, the first Brazilian carnival, celebrated the crowning of John IV as

King, beginning a long and storied history of celebrations throughout the country.

Carnaval depends on the ecclesiastical calendar: it usually happens in the middle of February, although very occasionally it can be early March, it starts at midnight of the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ends on the Wednesday night, though effectively people start partying on Friday over five days.

NORTHEAST  CARNIVAL STYLES

SALVADOR – BAHIA

Centro Historico de Salvador
Foto: Roberto Viana/AGECOM

The Bahia State is the heartbeat for Carnival with a ruge African influence ( in Salvador 80% of the population are decendants of African slaves). There Carnival attracts approximately 2.5 million  people every year. One of the key differences you’ll find in the Bahian Carnival is the music. Bahian music features Axe, Samba, and Samba-Reggae. You’ll also observe Candomble infused into the celebrations, which is a religion practiced by some African descendants.

Another interesting aspect of Bahian Carnival are the groups you’ll see celebrating — the Afoxês, Blocos Afros, Trios Elétricos, and Amerindian. Afoxês take notes from Candomble, while Blocos Afros are more similar to the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 70’s and Amerindians uphold the First nations traditions.

Trios Elétricos are trucks with mobile speakers, turning them into traveling concerts. From a cultural standpoint, the party is always on the streets but to participate as a special group you need to buy the Abada ( that includs the T-shirt and indentification pass).  If you don’t want to to spend the money you can enjoy it a little bit further from the trios eletricos which the locals call pipocas ( popcorns).

OLINDA AND RECIFE – PERNAMBUCO

Carnival in Recife is the time to discover Maracatu. An Afro-Brazilian dance. You’ll also find the electric dance, Frevo. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the festival of Galo da Madrugada held in Recife the Saturday of Carnival week is the biggest in the world.

What makes Pernambuco so special is that it’s not a competition; it’s simply a performance for people to enjoy. Perhaps the last true Carnival left in Brazil, groups of musicians play side by side to entertain the masses with kindness and hospitality on full display.

SOUTHEAST STYLE

SAO PAULO- SP

Laura Lewko wears a Carnaval diva costume by Atelier Valeria Costa

2005 Carnival Gavioes da Fiel Show in Sao Paulo. I participated on the top of that car. What an amazing experience!!

Sao Paulo is the financial heart of Brazil and has created a beautiful way to commemorate its Carnival. Its style is like Rio with a big show of samba schools on the Anhembi Sambadrome. The competition is actually held on the Friday and Saturday, opposed to the RIO Sunday and Monday.

Other parties also take place on the street in the neighborhoods of Vila Madalena and old Downtown with live music and bands.

OURO PRETO ,TIRADENTES – MINAS GERAIS 

“The coolest thing about Ouro Preto is that the carnival is history. It’s beautiful to see the culture passed down from generation to generation.”  Laura Lewko

OURO PRETO

Ouro Preto Streets during Carnival

Located a 5.5 hour drive north of Rio de Janeiro is the UNESCO Historic Town of Ouro Preto in the region of Minas Gerais .The Carnival celebrations in Ouro Preto generally attract a younger crowd as it is mostly visited by students who study at the nearby universities along with their friends. The parties go on all day and night, making it a perfect and unique place to experience Brazil’s Carnival spirit.

THE TOWN HAS BECOME WELL-KNOWN FOR ITS ‘BLOCOS CARNAVALESCOS’. THROUGHOUT THE TOWN YOU’LL BE ABLE TO HEAR AND ENJOY THE LIVE MUSIC PRODUCED BY THE MANY LOCAL BRASS AND PERCUSSION BANDS THAT WORK THEIR WAY THROUGH THE CHARMING STREETS OF  OURO PRETO.

TIRADENTES

Tiradentes’s Carnival  Bands

The historical town of Minas Gerais has a fun carnival on the streets similar to Ouro Preto but more family-oriented with lots activities for kids and adults all day long.

SOUTH BRAZIL

Curitiba

South of Brazil took awhile to get into big festivities with carnival but in the last decade created The Thecno Carnival. This type reminds me of the Salvador style with thousands of people on the street following the big trucks ( Trio Eletricos) but with a big twist. The music comes from international and local DJs  playing  eletronic music. The reason for this may be the large European influence here particularly the Germans decendants who live in this southern part of Brazil. 

Brazil has many much more places to explore and enjoy carnival but these are the ones have their own unique touch.

GOOD TO KNOW

Canadian Citizen needs Visa to visit Brazil but for Canadian Residents it will depend of the agreement between the Country you have your passport.

click here for more information

Consulate of Brazil in Vancouver

Consulate of Brazil in Montreal